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Arizona Lawmaker Suspended After Sexual Harassment Allegations

 J.D. Mesnard
(Photo by Matthew Casey - KJZZ)
Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard

Arizona state Rep. Don Shooter has been suspended as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee following multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him.

On Friday, the publisher of the state’s largest newspaper became the latest woman to accuse Shooter of inappropriate behavior.

In a news conference at the Capitol, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard announced outside counsel will be brought in to help with an investigation into the accusations against the Yuma Republican.

Mesnard said it’s too early to talk about potential punishment, and he’s withholding judgment until the probe is complete.

“We are going to follow the process,” Mesnard said. “We are a process House. We are a process country. Due process in particular. I’m not here to say he’s innocent or guilty of the accusations against him. We’re going to let the investigations play out and then decide the appropriate action at that time.“

Mesnard said he spoke with Shooter about the decision to suspend him.

“I think he understands from a process standpoint, this is necessary, even if he’s not happy about it," Mesnard said. "As the Speaker of the House, I’m here to safeguard the institution and the process. And this is necessary."

Mesnard did not give a specific timeline to complete the investigation. But he wants it done as soon as possible, and he hopes it will be before the start of the Legislative Session in January.

Vice Chair David Livingston will head the House Appropriations Committee while Shooter is suspended.  

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.